The Christmas train to promote peace between Christians and Muslims arrived in Faisalabad, Pakistani Punjab, greeted by a cheering crowd of hundreds of people, including ordinary people and authorities.
The train is a joint initiative of the government in Islamabad and
the Ministry for Human Rights, headed by Christian Kamran Michael. In
front of the audience, he said: "I am really very happy that government
of Pakistan has taken such great step for its minorities and I
congratulate you all for experiencing such great thing on the eve of
Christmas. It is a unique initiative to boost the campaign for harmony
and peace. Through this Christmas peace train we give powerful message
to haters who do not tolerate followers of other religions. I assure you
that government will think of more ways to endorse religious harmony in
future as well".
The convoy, made up of five carriages, departed from Rawalpindi
station December 22. It touched Peshawar, Lahore, Multan and Karachi.
The train was decked with garlands, banners, Christmas trees, cardboard
with the representation of the Nativity, with statues from the largest
churches in the country.
Upon arrival, hundreds of children, women, youth and the merely
curious flocked to the sides of the train to take selfies and shout
slogans of peace and participate in the festivities with music and
Wajahat Masood, a well-known columnist and activist, praised both
Christians and Muslims for having given birth to such a project. "It is a
gesture really admirable - tells AsiaNews - that the government of
Pakistan wished to participate in the joy of Christmas. This initiative
is a proof that Pakistan respects its minority community and celebrates
the festivals of minorities very well. These kinds of steps taken by
government will enrich confidence of religious minorities and they will
own the country by their heart as always they owned since the Pakistan
came into existence. The love minorities have now for their country, no
message of hate can erase it ever. I congratulate both Christians and
Pakistan government on this successful effort".
Christian activist, Shazia George, adds: "There is a great need to
promote the message of religious harmony at present, when terrorism and
hate prevail, and the government and ministry of human rights through
this effort has given a strong message that our nation want peace and
coexistence. I really wish that these kinds of steps be taken in future
as well, because these kinds of initiatives will become a bridge among
different kinds of communities having different faith to come closer and
celebrate all festivals peacefully".